Get access

Changing Lives, Resistant Institutions: A New Generation Negotiates Gender, Work, and Family Change1


  • 1

     An earlier version of this article was presented as the Presidential Address at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society. Enormous thanks to Lynn Chancer, Sarah Damaske, Rosanna Hertz, Vincent Parrillo, and Pamela Stone for their inspiration, insight, and dedicated work as members of my program committee. Discussions with Jerry A. Jacobs and John H. Mollenkopf helped me formulate my presidential address, and Karen Cerulo provided deft editorial support.


Sociology’s enduring concern with explaining the links between individual and social change has never been more relevant. We are poised at a moment when changing lives are colliding with resistant institutions. These tensions have created social conflicts and personal dilemmas for women and men alike. To explain the interplay between lives and institutions and to develop effective strategies for transcending the impasse between public demands and private needs, we need a deeper understanding of how these structural and cultural conflicts play out in the lives of young women and men. This article proposes a framework for such an inquiry.